Women make up only 29% of all movie characters
October 3, 2014 7:09 AM   Subscribe

The Herculean Effort Taken By One Group To Show Hollywood Is Sexist. "In dissecting the top 100 grossing films each year, Smith and her team have analyzed a total of 26,225 characters in 600 films for gender, body type, age, race and more. In their most recent annual review, released in July, they found that in 2013, only 29 percent of characters were female, and a mere 28 percent of the films had a female lead or co-lead."

And just in case you were wondering, "well, so what," there's this Medium piece by Kathryn Funkhouser. "I gravitated toward any glimmer of a female character who didn’t exist only to be beautiful in the impossible way that seemed so remote to me. I sought these fiercely, but they took so much more effort to find than the clever boys who seemed to be everywhere."
posted by showbiz_liz (53 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
 
This sounds like it must have been absolutely insane/awesome to collect data for. I'm actually one of those people who enjoy quantifying pop culture statistics, but I rarely if ever do it because it just seems unproductive in day-to-day life. But having a valid I'M DOING IMPORTANT RESEARCH HERE reason? That's like my dream job.

The Herculean Effort Taken By One Group To Show Hollywood Is Sexist.

Even the descriptive expression used in the headline is male-centric. This goes deep in our culture, to the point that I can't think of a female equivalent to "herculean." Xenaian? Wonder Womanly? Buffy-esque?
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:26 AM on October 3, 2014 [20 favorites]


This makes me feel better about all the movies I don't want to see because there's no women doing interesting things in them. I don't care if they're art, unless you are writing sci-fi about a male-only planet, there needs to be women characters doing interesting things. Which does not include propping up the male protagonist's ego.
posted by emjaybee at 7:28 AM on October 3, 2014 [36 favorites]


Some of those figures are startlingly consistent year-by-year. Knowing nothing about the industry, I would've expected much wider variance for pretty much all of those measures.

The full report, linked in the article, is surprisingly readable and has lots of big, friendly graphs. Definitely worth a look if you're interested.

Strange Interlude: Amazonian?
posted by metaBugs at 7:29 AM on October 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


Amazonian, maybe?

I'm glad to see this research. Not that it's news to me, but it's often helpful to have quantifiable numbers to wave at people who aren't open to other forms of information.
posted by Stacey at 7:29 AM on October 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Prunellian ?
posted by Pendragon at 7:35 AM on October 3, 2014


Where the amazons renowned for taking on really big tasks? No, so not an appropriate description. Hercules was, giving rise to this description. Identifying problems like cultural under-representation is really useful. Picking up ancient mythologies for not being gender balanced enough? Navel oriented point scoring.
posted by biffa at 7:41 AM on October 3, 2014 [6 favorites]


Related -- Martha Lauzen: studies of Women in Television and Film, looking at the numbers and percentages of women working in the television and film industries.

I recently saw the trailer for The Judge, and it looked like a dramatic movie about a bunch of older white men, even though IMDb lists 3 women in the top 6 cast positions (though there are only 2 women in the next 9 actors listed). As for race, even opening up to view the full cast, it's a very white movie. Is Carlinville, Indiana really that devoid of racial diversity?
posted by filthy light thief at 7:44 AM on October 3, 2014


>>The Herculean Effort Taken By One Group To Show Hollywood Is Sexist.

Even the descriptive expression used in the headline is male-centric. This goes deep in our culture, to the point that I can't think of a female equivalent to "herculean." Xenaian? Wonder Womanly? Buffy-esque?

Nah. We are just conditioned not to make a big fuss.

When sweeping out stables (again!), running off to bring back Cerberus etc (for what? The umpteenth time!), we barely murmur "well, that took a bit of effort".

Fantastic post.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 7:44 AM on October 3, 2014 [6 favorites]


This sounds like it must have been absolutely insane/awesome to collect data for.

From the article:
And all of them have stories of the worst films to code. Choueiti still shivers when remembering “Despicable Me 2.” He had to sit down with a student coder, Angel, to figure out all the minions. “I was like, ‘Angel, we need to track the eye size, the width and height of every single one of these.’ ”

Everyone has That Movie. For Artur Tofan, it was “The Lego Movie” with its eclectic, animated and particularly talkative cast. For Yoobin Cha, it was “The Hobbit” with a dozen nearly identical dwarves. For Rocha, it was “Free Birds” with its seemingly countless — but in the end, countable — computer-generated turkeys.

“I did ‘The Smurfs,’ ” Taveres said. “It was terrible. … Of course, some of them have like a hat, different clothing. But they all looked the same.”
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:48 AM on October 3, 2014 [5 favorites]


The frustrating thing is that you can have movies with female protagonists like The Hunger Games and Gravity that are huge hits but somehow their success doesn't seem to change the decision making process for new films.
posted by octothorpe at 7:54 AM on October 3, 2014 [13 favorites]


The frustrating thing is that you can have movies with female protagonists like The Hunger Games and Gravity that are huge hits but somehow their success doesn't seem to change the decision making process for new films

Yeah, and Scarlett Johansson having a #1 movie being a scifi film with a female lead this past summer, and it likely being a rare outlier instead of a sign of change to come.
posted by mathowie at 7:56 AM on October 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


I feel strangely obligated to see a movie in theaters if the lead is an actress whose work I generally enjoy. I want to pat Hollywood on the head when it does something I like. Which is why the two movies I saw in theaters this summer were Obvious Child and Tammy.
posted by kat518 at 8:00 AM on October 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


I can't think of a female equivalent to "herculean." Xenaian? Wonder Womanly? Buffy-esque?

Atalantean!
posted by Greg Nog at 8:02 AM on October 3, 2014 [14 favorites]


And let's not even talk about black female leads. You have to go back decades to count them up on one hand. Just once I want to see a mainstream film that doesn't actually require it cast a black woman in the lead role because it's a story that could happen to a person and a black woman is an example of a person.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:08 AM on October 3, 2014 [27 favorites]


Scarlett Johansson having a #1 movie being a scifi film with a female lead this past summer, and it likely being a rare outlier instead of a sign of change to come.

Where is my Black Widow movie?!?!?

Reading the article, I was pleased to see that Google gave Geena Davis some money to throw at the problem of automating the data processing for this effort. (Also glad to see her institute is involved in general. I look forward to the day it's not needed, but I'm pleased it exists in the meantime.)
posted by immlass at 8:13 AM on October 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


> "Just once I want to see a mainstream film that doesn't actually require it cast a black woman in the lead role because it's a story that could happen to a person and a black woman is an example of a person."

It is kind of sad when "Alien Vs. Predator" serves as a best example of progressive thought in casting.
posted by kyrademon at 8:33 AM on October 3, 2014 [8 favorites]


Amazonian?

Thanks metaBugs and Stacey. It's appropriately classical-Greek too.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:39 AM on October 3, 2014


I get all of my mythology from syndicated '90s action shows, so I had a bit of a mental block going.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:40 AM on October 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


"Picking up ancient mythologies for not being gender balanced enough?"

Oh this is totally relevant! Especially when these ancient cultures still influence us. A female relative of mine bristled when I said that god is a she and stated she "is a Christian and believes in the bible so god is a man"

Ugh. At least there be one of each or one who contains each, orone who is neither or whatever. The idea that men are supreme beings and women exist to serve them is deeply permeated in many mythologies and creation myths.

Some of the mythologies that influence our culture are horrifically sexist and disgusting and need to be challenged. Mythologies can serve useful purposes or shitty purposes. If they aren't uplifting humanity I say shred em up and transform them such that they do.

That is called progess.
Women have been busy caring for children and being enslaved by men in too many cultures for too many generations while men wrote the creation myths and designed the nature of religions and the definitions of the divine and defined familial and societal roles to their liking. Women have a little more time to be involved in whatever useful societal force this may serve and I think it's time we take back the stories a bit. They mean a LOT.
posted by xarnop at 8:40 AM on October 3, 2014 [14 favorites]


It would be really interesting to break down the films in to the top 10 grossing each year vs. the films 91-100th grossing each year to begin to see if audiences are happy with the limited roles given to women.
posted by layceepee at 8:55 AM on October 3, 2014


Picking up ancient mythologies for not being gender balanced enough? Navel oriented point scoring.

Or maybe just a friendly poke at the headline, with a lightly-intended observation about gendered language and a goofy pop-culture pun run thrown in for no additional charge? I assure you, biffa, these things did not come from my navel, but from the hip. As for points, I appreciate positive reinforcement for comments, but that's way down the list on reasons I come here.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:58 AM on October 3, 2014 [9 favorites]


Hollywood is run as a cartel.

If you want to see women in movies,
if you want to see animators fairly compensated,
if you want to see movies not made by and for child-men...

then you need to send in a politically backed team of government anti-trust investigators and start dismantling the industry, financier by financier. The root of the problem has very little to do with sexism, even if the outcome reveals the rank sexism of the players.
posted by ennui.bz at 9:08 AM on October 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


Wait, they evaluated all the minions in Despecable Me? Hmmm... So every action movie with waves of generic thugs getting beaten up and killed (all male because women being beaten and killed isn't entertaining) are going to throw the numbers way off, right?
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:14 AM on October 3, 2014


Ok, but is the problem not enough women in our crap, or too much crap in our culture?
posted by batfish at 9:15 AM on October 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


Is Carlinville, Indiana really that devoid of racial diversity?

Carlinville, Indiana is a fictional town. But here are the demographics for Carlinville, IL:

"The racial makeup of the city was 97.01% White, 1.50% African American, 0.25% Native American, 0.26% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.23% from other races, and 0.74% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.76% of the population."
posted by el io at 9:17 AM on October 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Geena Davis is an utter badass, and the only thing wrong with that show where she played the president is that she should probably BE the president.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 9:21 AM on October 3, 2014


Regarding the title of the original article, it's usually good to suggest an alternative when one finds something problematic. Amazonian doesn't really work, because it doesn't describe the incredible effort being put forth. And simply choosing another gender is problematic.

Suggestions:
The Dung Beetle Like Effort Taken By One Group To Show Hollywood Is Sexist
Brick by Brick: One Groups Effort to Document Hollywood's Sexism

Herculean is fine, as its describing a huge effort put forth.

But now I'm curious, are there any mythical female characters that had to exert a huge effort to accomplish a task?


As for race, even opening up to view the full cast, it's a very white movie.

That's ok. Not every movie based in America has to have non-white people in it. It would just be nice if very white movies wasn't the dominant or default in any American media.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:30 AM on October 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


So every action movie with waves of generic thugs getting beaten up and killed (all male because women being beaten and killed isn't entertaining) are going to throw the numbers way off, right?

Women getting attacked, beaten, and/or killed are just used differently for entertainment in so many movies. Sometimes, they are either the reason for the hero's quest. He goes on a violent spree in her name - to rescue or avenge her. Sometimes, they are shorthand for character evolution: woman gets attacked, turns into revenge-fueled missile. Sometimes putting the woman into a violent situation is a way to antagonize/threaten the hero, and again, become the quest of rescue or revenge. It's not wide-spread violent background noise, but it is diminishing characters that are ostensibly leads or prominent roless in the story by framing and defining them in male violence. Sometimes they are a token badass, who too frequently needs to be ultimately rescued by the hero.

So yes, they are usually not represented amongst the gang of thugs who must be dispatched, but they also are generally not the ones in the action movies doing the beating up and killing (notable exceptions, aside), so their number amongst the action heroes is smaller, too.
posted by julen at 9:35 AM on October 3, 2014 [13 favorites]


Not to derail, but race has been similarly shown to be non-representative of society: "Across 100 top-grossing films of 2012, only 10.8% of speaking characters are Black, 4.2% are Hispanic, 5% are Asian, and 3.6% are from other (or mixed race) ethnicities. Just over three-quarters of all speaking characters are White (76.3%). These trends are relatively stable, as little deviation is observed across the 5-year sample." (source: Annenberg Foundation study)

I imagine that income level is similarly disproportionate. I'm not sure what conclusion to draw about this, except that media is, as a rule, a reflection of the powerful, and rich, white men are (grossly) disproportionately in positions of power. It reminds me of a discussion recently on the blue about grammar, and someone brought up the point that "proper grammar" is invariably a reflection of the previous generation's aristocracy. In essence, we're being taught to mirror our "betters."

I hate to fall back on the "awareness" crutch, but maybe this representation issue is one that can be cured (or at least alleviated) if people (particularly those producing mass media) are just more aware of it. The example of Dan Harmon shooting for male/female parity in his writing room springs to mind. It can be difficult because, as Harmon has pointed out on his excellent podcast, the people who have the resources to pursue mass media careers tend to be people with a lot of resources (i.e. financial and moral support) at their disposal in the first place, which is to say rich, Harvard-educated men.

It's a Gordian knot of a problem, and it makes me sad.
posted by gern at 9:36 AM on October 3, 2014 [8 favorites]


> "But now I'm curious, are there any mythical female characters that had to exert a huge effort to accomplish a task?"

Sure. Let's see ... Psyche.

After Psyche betrays Cupid's trust, Venus sets her a number of punitive tasks if she is to win him back. These include:

- Sorting a massive heap of wheat, barley, poppyseed, chickpeas, lentils, and beans into separate heaps by dawn
- Crossing a river and fetching golden wool from the violent sheep who graze on the other side
- Getting a sample of the black water spewed by the source of the rivers Styx and Cocytus
- Going into the Underworld and obtaining a dose of the beauty of its queen, Proserpina

And while she ends up getting a lot of help with these from various sources, some of them -- the last one especially -- require a great deal of effort on her own part. And if you see the overall task as "winning Cupid back", she also gets through being whipped and tortured by Worry and Sadness and having her head bashed into the ground by Venus herself.
posted by kyrademon at 9:48 AM on October 3, 2014 [11 favorites]


It's a Ripley-esque task. Should also involve a flamethrower, to be honest.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:51 AM on October 3, 2014 [13 favorites]


In the field of book publishing, however....
posted by IndigoJones at 10:05 AM on October 3, 2014


Super interesting post and sadly not surprising at all. Thanks for sharing.
posted by Librarypt at 10:06 AM on October 3, 2014


This reminds me of a comment here on mefi that I'm failing to find right now. When one mefite was a little girl, she thought women were mathematically a minority, so she was later shocked to find out that women are quite literally half the population. And why shouldn't she have thought that? Her main way to see the wider world was through movies and television, and as this research demonstrates, in the world these things construct for us, women are proportionally a minority.

I've just finished watching the third season of Call the Midwife, and one of the main reasons I love it so much is that it is about the lives of women, and what matters to them.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:09 AM on October 3, 2014 [17 favorites]


Relevant
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:11 AM on October 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yes, but IndigoJones, that 85% of publishing employees are women doesn't necessarily mean that women are treated better. From later in that same article:
The other issue about women making up the majority of the publishing labor force is that, by default, it brings down the pay scale. As our salary survey indicated, women make on average $64,600 compared to men, $105,130. That gap, the largest one our survey has ever recorded, doesn’t help improve the industry’s image as a notoriously low-paying one.
When I worked in publishing, I knew the salaries of my peers, and even though we had comparable positions, the men always made more.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:12 AM on October 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


not only is it obviously sexist, its also blindingly short-sighted and in my opinion one of the main reasons (or perhaps a very prominent symptom) that hollywood is a vacuous shell.

even just from a purely entertainment perspective, every goddamn gritty white guy or smart-alecky white guy story has been told a THOUSANDS TIMES to increasingly diminished results. i am so profoundly bored of those tropes i can barely even stand to go to the theaters or watch prometime television. im starved for new perspectives in my entertainment, and im exactly the demographic they think they are playing safe to.

i've subtly wondered why it seems like all my favorite media for the past few years have all either had female leads or female writers or directors. perhaps its two fold: one, because any female writers or directors probably has to be twice as talented and driven as her male peers in order to get anywhere in such a bro industry, but sadly also probably because *even just having a touch of female perspective* in these shows is so rare as to add a tangible and attractive sense of "different-ness." depressing as hell to realize that, in fucking 2014.

this extends to POC as well of course, as the hollywood shortsightedness doesn't just end with blase sexism.
posted by young_son at 10:27 AM on October 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


This is my surprised face.

No, really, I am genuinely surprised, because I knew it was bad, but I didn't know it was this bad. Damn. Nuff respect to the researchers for compiling all that data.

I wish I had the standing to show those numbers to Important People in Hwood and issue a challenge to up their game. I've always been amused by how Hwood will claim piteously and helplessly that, gosh, they aren't trying to exclude women and minorities but they pretty much are forced to cast and make only those movies that the public will go to; but then they turn around and keep trying to force certain actors and stories on us over and over and over and over again despite lukewarm responses from theater-goers.
posted by lord_wolf at 12:00 PM on October 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


ocherdraco: This reminds me of a comment here on mefi that I'm failing to find right now. When one mefite was a little girl, she thought women were mathematically a minority, so she was later shocked to find out that women are quite literally half the population.

I thought the same from the other side when i was a little boy. I had come up with some elaborate story in my head about how it must be incredibly competitive to win a girls heart, which would explain why disney movies and such were teaching us about all these feats of bravery. It was like, preparing us for the ridiculous competitiveness that lay ahead.

When you realize how strongly that message was sent and received, ridiculous statistics about messages on okcupid and stuff make a lot more sense. Not to mention all the weird reddit stuff about incels and the redpill and all that.
posted by emptythought at 12:32 PM on October 3, 2014 [8 favorites]


Picking up ancient mythologies for not being gender balanced enough? Navel oriented point scoring.

When people say there's a problem with using male-coded metonyms like 'Herculean' to describe gender-neutral things like heroism or triumph over adversity, they're not saying the problem is the ancient myth of Hercules. They're saying the problem is us, now, today, tending to describe heroism or triumph in male terms, as if people of all genders can't equally well be heroes or do daunting things.
posted by amery at 12:39 PM on October 3, 2014 [21 favorites]


These questions can only be answered by Crow T. Robot's documentary about women.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:04 PM on October 3, 2014 [6 favorites]


Not to derail, but race has been similarly shown to be non-representative of society: "Across 100 top-grossing films of 2012, only 10.8% of speaking characters are Black, 4.2% are Hispanic, 5% are Asian, and 3.6% are from other (or mixed race) ethnicities. Just over three-quarters of all speaking characters are White (76.3%). These trends are relatively stable, as little deviation is observed across the 5-year sample."

Aside from Hispanics being very under-represented, these numbers are fairly in-line with actual US demographics. (I am assuming here that most of the top-grossing movies are American, English-language movies.) They don't seem nearly as skewed as the men/women disparity.
posted by ayedub at 5:37 PM on October 3, 2014


ThatFuzzyBastard: yes, disproportionate representation of men as background characters does skew the results which is kinda the point. One of the more alarming stats to me, from the 2008 version of this report (I think) was that when you looked at worker characters - characters who are employed in some sort of job - 80% of them were men. When in reality 60% of workers are women.

The male default, as background characters, as workers, as thugs, as cops and firies and accountants and pretty much every other damn media portrayal possible for a character, reinforces the silence and erasure of women. When the speaking roles for women disparity in our media is echoed in representation of women in professional roles, and in our perception of 'equal' representation - Spender's work on how it takes a third of a group being women, or minorities, for the rest of the group to perceive and state that they were actually the majority/achieved parity - then yes, how many minions being coded as male (in spite of being apparently agender) is actually important.

The media representation of women, even in male dominated areas, is still lower than reality. There are actually women in the army! And police force! And organised crime!
posted by geek anachronism at 5:51 PM on October 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


And even if armies skew majority male, for example, it's not like women disappear during war. They still exist, they still do things. And there are other female-dominated spaces that could easily serve as settings for films, as well, and yet somehow there aren't enough of them to balance out the men-killing-each-other films.
posted by jaguar at 7:01 PM on October 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Given sufficient funding, I'd very much like to see them repeat this analysis for, say, one year from each of the previous decades since film was firmly established as a popular medium. I'm trying to decide how I think it might have changed, but honestly, I can think of a number of equally plausible reasons why representation of women might have increased (e.g., women's lib) or decreased (e.g., higher proportion of action movies).
posted by Cecilia Rose at 7:35 PM on October 3, 2014


Those numbers are so stark. Dare I dream that studios will finally feel embarrassed enough to do a bit better?
posted by Dip Flash at 8:53 PM on October 3, 2014


I should have noted, while Carlinville, Indiana is 97% white, I assume it's around 50% female. So while the lack of POC in "The Judge" may be understandable, the lack of women is not as much.

(the lack of representation of POC is one reason I could never stand Friends or Seinfeld - seriously, the most diverse city in what - the world? and everyone that everyone knew was white? blech).
posted by el io at 10:23 PM on October 3, 2014


I wonder if the biggest reason that it's skewed so far male is because of war films. Off the top of my head there's Gettysburg that had over a dozen speaking parts and thousands of extras...and about three women. Should the producers have put in more women? Maybe, but that would've meant they were telling a different story, and the producers wanted to tell that story, the one of the battles, and the battles were fought by men. Is it unacceptable to tell that story?
posted by zardoz at 1:22 AM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


zardoz: I think you cracked the riddle. No institutionalized marginalization at all, it's war movies.
posted by el io at 1:58 AM on October 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


are there any mythical female characters that had to exert a huge effort to accomplish a task?

Well there's Penelope, weaving a tapestry that was unraveled every night. Which suits the 'all improvements periodically undone' nature of women's representation in film. Penelopian. Penelopiesque.
posted by glasseyes at 5:08 AM on October 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


Not to derail, but race has been similarly shown to be non-representative of society: "Across 100 top-grossing films of 2012, only 10.8% of speaking characters are Black, 4.2% are Hispanic, 5% are Asian, and 3.6% are from other (or mixed race) ethnicities. Just over three-quarters of all speaking characters are White (76.3%). These trends are relatively stable, as little deviation is observed across the 5-year sample."

Aside from Hispanics being very under-represented, these numbers are fairly in-line with actual US demographics. (I am assuming here that most of the top-grossing movies are American, English-language movies.) They don't seem nearly as skewed as the men/women disparity.


But, the things is, most movies are not set in "America". They are frequently set in New York or LA or Chicago or Miami or Atlanta. And all of those places are majority minority. And so having a movie set in New York that is 76% white is laughably skewed compared to what New York is actually like (44% white in the last census).
posted by hydropsyche at 5:53 AM on October 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


> "Should the producers have put in more women? Maybe, but that would've meant they were telling a different story, and the producers wanted to tell that story, the one of the battles, and the battles were fought by men. Is it unacceptable to tell that story?"

It's not unacceptable to want to tell the story of the battle of Gettysburg. Of course that battle included, among other women:

- Marie Tepe, who fought on the Union side (she served under fire in 13 battles, including Gettysburg, and received the Kearny Cross medal for extreme bravery and heroism in the face of the enemy after the Battle of Chancellorsville)
- Lorinda Anna Blair, also on the Union side, who received *her* Kearney Cross for Gettysburg itself
- Mary Virginia "Jenny" Wade, the only civilian killed during the Battle of Gettysburg
- Josephine Miller, who lived directly between the battle lines and distributed bread to the troops throughout the battle
- An unknown woman who died taking part in Pickett's Charge (she was found dead on the west side of the stone wall on Cemetery Ridge)
- Another unknown woman who fought on the Confederate side and lost a leg, as reported from the hospital in Michigan where she was taken after the battle
- "Aunt Liz", who escaped capture by the Confederate Army by hiding in the belfry of Christ Lutheran Church for days without food or water (The Confederate Army had been authorized to seize any person of color they encountered on their march north and send them south as "captured contraband")

So, yeah, you can make a movie about the battle of Gettysburg with no women in it if you don't feel bad about erasing them from history.
posted by kyrademon at 5:06 AM on October 5, 2014 [13 favorites]


Durga. All the god's failed and she took on all the demons herself to save humanity and the gods. This recent durga puja appropriately having just occurred. Actually frankly the fact that people don't even realize there are tons of powerful goddesses and female figures in ancient mythologies and stories who took on heroic feats in battle at great costs to themselves is quite a current overlooking of an entire realm of historical story telling that has been far too overlooked. For much of history in many cultures males have dominated the task of taking part in battles, and frankly I do think when children are involved it makes sense for the parent who has become most bonded to the child, which often is the parent who birthed and nursed and cared for the child infancy and toddlerhood and began to specialize in safe nurturing support of small vulnerable beings..is better staying out of the trauma of war because even if you come back you are often in no shape to parent or nurture.

I don't think specializations is bad or even trends in men taking over defense duties are innately bad. They just don't have to be universally enforced, and trends should not dictate each persons path which should match their wishes, abilites and skillsets; along with how that fits into pressing needs in the family and community. We need female hero's, and we also need tasks associated with "women's work" to be seen as heroic as well. Toiling away for the sake of your children when you are giving up powerful dreams is a fate of many women, and their sacrifices for their children are equally heroic. We shouldn't celebrate people making such sacrifices for others outside of compelling need-- i.e. the norm should not be that we hope for people to give up their hopes and dreams, or even sacrifice their health, well being or their very lives for others unless it is truly needed (and we should see such circumstance as terrible and worthy of changes from the outside). There are many people who do fantastical and heroic deeds outside of the battlefield.

I have also noticed that for example people talk about how Avatar TLA was a great series but then Korra has too much "relationship stuff" and it's lame (heard this from many people when talking about both series). Stuff historically associated with women (the sphere of the relational between humans) is more lame? It's just something to break down, because there was relationship stuff in TLA too but it didn't bother people as much.
posted by xarnop at 10:48 AM on October 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


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